As we all joyfully stepped away from the year 2020 and into a new year, most people are focused on making New Year’s resolutions. Many of us were more than happy to see a new year come our way, one that we hope will take us out of an era of lockdowns, virtual learning, and mask. I am not going to lie, I can’t wait to see all of those as things of our past and not the present.
However, I decided to do things a little differently this past new year’s eve. I sat down and made three lists. The first was a list of the things that I was grateful that I did before Covid19, for example facilitating a play with my class about the American Revolution, organizing a trip to the state capital for the whole school, and hugging my kids, getting on their level face to face and telling them how proud I am of them.
The second list was what I got to do more of because of Covid19. This list was twice as long as the other two and a reminder of how easily what we can’t do can seem so much larger than what we can do, when in fact that list is realistically always much smaller, even during a pandemic.
The third was a list of things that would have never happened if it weren’t for Covid19.
One of those things for me was discovering SV Delos, which is a sailing vessel that spent the last 10 years traveling around the world. Watching this group of compassionate adventurers is what lifted my spirits back in March when everything we knew came to a screeching halt and they continued to give me something to look forward to throughout the entire summer. Wherever they went they made connections with people of a variety of different backgrounds, always respectful of their culture and differences. They also did what they could to share with their audience issues that the areas they explored faced. They acted on the empathy they felt and the compassion that they demonstrated spread to the half a million followers that they have on YouTube.
To say that today was one of the highlights of my year so far is an understatement.
Today, they were kind enough to take time out of their busy schedules to talk to my cohort about connection and compassion. As my students tackle their first independent inquiry project of the year, they were thrilled to be able to interview Brady Trautmann and Alex Blue.
To be able to ask questions about their experiences in the real world sailing from one country to the next connecting with people from all over the world. The ability to have real world examples of compassion at work whether they were in Dominica after the devastation of Hurricane Maria or trying to help people look past the mis-information about the people of Madagascar, to see the good in others, to connect with them, and to understand what they are going through and where they are coming from. However, what was probably most exciting for them was to see their new documentary, “80 Degrees North Sailing on Top of the World” in which they sail into the Arctic Circle and share what they learned about how trash is affecting wildlife in that region. We also learned how important the protection that was enacted in 1986 for the whales was and how without that they may have never experienced a pod of Beluga whales in the wild.
So as we continue to move forward into a new year, we do so focused on all of the new opportunities that obstacles provide for us. We also do so with a deeper understanding of the importance of the connection we make to the people around us and how important it is to not only have empathy for our environment, the animal, and human community, but to turn that into compassion by taking action and make every day of 2021 a better day for those around us.